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Draft proposal 1: An NDIS-wide participant safeguarding strategy

How does this currently work?

The 2016 NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework (Framework) outlines an overarching architecture and specific initiatives to achieve safe and high quality supports in the NDIS. While there has been positive progress in implementing parts of the Framework, other aspects have not been implemented as envisioned, or at all. We have recently published an issues paper on the Framework, which seeks views on how to revise and reset the Framework to be fit for purpose for the future.

Underneath the Framework, the various parts of government responsible for delivering the NDIS (for example, NDIA, NDIS Commission, DSS and states and territories) have different policies and processes for understanding what risks people with disability face, what supports people with disability to be safe, and how and when to take action to ensure safety. There is not, however, a clear articulation of how these individual policies come together to deliver on the strategic objectives of the Framework.

This means that it is not always clear what the different agencies should be doing to support participants when they are unsafe, how they should work together, and how their actions fit with an overarching strategy. It also means it can be difficult to understand how the system as a whole is working together to keep people safe, as reporting on outcomes is fragmented across agencies using different measures of success.

How could it change to work better?

We think there should be one strategic approach to participant safeguarding in the NDIS. A new NDIS-wide Participant Safeguarding Strategy should be designed with strong engagement from participants, and should include things that participants want to see in it, such as clear guidance on who is responsible for what, and illustrative examples to help them understand what the strategy means in practice for them. DSS should lead the development of this strategy, working in partnership with the NDIA, NDIS Commission and states and territories, and engaging with participants.

The strategy would sit under a revised Framework and be linked to Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31 and the Safety Targeted Action Plan. It would articulate how all governments coordinate and deliver on participant safeguarding objectives. It would also articulate how the performance of the NDIS system as a whole in safeguarding participants will be monitored and reported on, to ensure accountability. Individual agencies’ policies would articulate how they will deliver on their responsibilities under the strategy.

Other people such as providers and workers play critical roles in safeguarding – with these roles and expectations articulated in the Framework and specific regulatory requirements. The strategy would instead focus on coordinating various parts of government.

Under this proposal, everyone would have a different role to play, but they would be guided by the same approach, objectives and understanding. Participants, families and carers would have a single source of truth about what to expect, what their role is, and how NDIS agencies can support them. This would mean that when they ask for help, there would be fewer gaps to traverse in finding support. Likewise, the NDIA, NDIS Commission and other parts of government like states and territories would have a single articulation of expectations and roles, better coordination, and a clearer process to evaluate performance and outcomes on participant safeguarding at a whole-of-scheme scale.

It will be important to ensure that the strategy delivers practical change and outcomes. For example, this could include focusing on specific issues and sources of harm over time, as well as ensuring accountability through frequent, transparent reporting on outcomes.

Question for consultation

  1. What should an NDIS-wide participant safeguarding strategy cover?

Have your say

Consultation is now closed.

To have your say in the NDIS Review visit our consultation page.